03/03/12 10:21 PM ET
Prospect watch: Monitoring low-profile Angels
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
So, with the Angels opening up their Cactus League schedule on Monday, below are 10 under-the-radar names to take note of if you make your way to Arizona. You already know all about Mike Trout (No. 27), probably have a good foundation on Garrett Richards (43) and Hank Conger (16), and may have already seen Alexi Amarista (19), Andrew Romine (18), Jeremy Moore (28) and Efren Navarro (31) in the Majors.
These are the others -- the young, promising prospects who haven't reached the big leagues and probably won't this season, but could turn some heads this spring (those with asterisks are on the 40-man roster).
No. 20, SS Jean Segura*: Rated as the second-best prospect in the Angels' system by MLB.com, the 21-year-old was limited to just 52 Minor League games in 2011 because of hamstring issues he thinks have been resolved. Segura is believed to have matured as a hitter, boasts a quick, compact swing, has great arm strength and is an above-average runner. This year, the converted second baseman needs to keep getting used to shortstop and, most of all, stay healthy.
No. 35, 3B Luis Jimenez*: The 24-year-old played a full season of Double-A last year, batting .290 with 18 homers, 94 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. Jimenez has good plate coverage, but he's a free swinger and his range is suspect.
No. 49, RHP John Hellweg*: Listed at 6-foot-9 and 210 pounds, the wiry righty took big steps forward after being converted to a starting pitcher last year, posting a 2.12 ERA and an 80-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 starts for Class A Inland Empire. Hellweg, ranked ninth in the Angels' system, features a lively, upper-90s fastball and a low-80s slider with good break. He should pitch his first season of Double-A this year.
No. 52, RHP Fabio Martinez Mesa*: The 2011 season was a lost one for the 22-year-old, who spent most of it on the disabled list trying to regain strength in his shoulder and missing time with an ankle injury due to a comebacker. When healthy, Martinez -- ranked 13th -- throws a hard fastball that tops out at 98 mph, couples it with a nasty slider and strikes out a ton of hitters.
No. 56, RHP Ariel Pena*: The 22-year-old has spent three years in rookie ball and has pitched just four innings above Class A in his five pro seasons. In 2011, Pena -- who throws a hard four-seamer, slider and sinker -- posted a 4.45 ERA, 180 strikeouts and 81 walks for Inland Empire. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, scouts believe he'll have to cut down his walks to remain a starter.
No. 65, RHP Loek Van Mil: At 7-foot-1, Van Mil is the tallest pitcher in professional baseball. But the 27-year-old hasn't been able to use that height to get him to the Majors in six pro seasons. Van Mil posted a 2.04 ERA in 66 innings in Double-A last year, but was outrighted to the Minors in November before going unselected in the Rule 5 Draft.
No. 77, OF Kole Calhoun: Calhoun -- a lefty hitter who has spent time at all three outfield spots and first base in his two pro seasons -- hit .324 with 22 homers and 99 RBIs for Inland Empire in 2011. Calhoun, according to "Baseball America," is regarded more "for his blue-collar approach, plate discipline and professionalism" than his raw tools. MLB.com ranks him 15th in the Angels' system.
No. 78, 2B Taylor Lindsey: The 20-year-old lefty hitter was taken 37th overall out of high school in 2010 and won Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP honors in 2011, batting .362 with nine homers, 46 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Lindsey, ranked sixth in the Angels' system, is a very mature hitter who projects to hit for a high average, but is limited with his arm strength and speed.
No. 81, RHP Daniel Tillman: The Angels tinkered with stretching Tillman out as a starter last year -- he posted a 3.09 ERA in five turns -- but returned him to the bullpen because they felt his stuff profiled better as a closer. Tillman throws a 92-95 mph fastball with good sink and a 78-80 mph slider. After being returned to the 'pen in May, the 22-year-old posted a 2.52 ERA in the Midwest, California and Arizona Fall leagues.
No. 87, LHP Matt Meyer: The 27-year-old may not be much of a prospect -- he's been with three different organizations and hasn't reached the Majors after six pro seasons -- but he has a deceptive sidearm delivery that could make him tough on lefty hitters. Meyer, who pitched in Saturday's intrasquad game, was limited to just 14 appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake last year, posting a 2.30 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP.
Williams limited with strained hamstring
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels right-hander Jerome Williams, who suffered a left hamstring strain while taking part in rundown drills on Friday, will be "restricted to limited activity for roughly the next two weeks," according to the team.
When he starts throwing again, and how the injury affects his chances of winning the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation, is still unclear.
"Too early to answer that question with any certainty," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a text message. "We'll see how he progresses over the next couple of weeks and take it from there."
But speaking before hearing the prognosis from Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum, manager Mike Scioscia pointed out on Saturday morning that he won't need a fifth starter until April 15, which could buy Williams some time this spring.
"There's going to be a little window there where he can catch up if he has to," Scioscia said.
Williams, 30, is in competition with Garrett Richards, Eric Hurley, Trevor Bell and Brad Mills for the final spot in the Angels' rotation. Because he came on strong down the stretch last season, going 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in 44 innings, many have considered Williams the favorite.
Young players get feet wet in intrasquad game
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The first glimpse of an Angels game in 2012 occurred at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, in the form of an informal, three-inning intrasquad contest made up of mostly Minor Leaguers and non-roster invitees.
Relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Michael Kohn, Loek Van Mil (who stands 7-foot-1) and Matt Meyer (a sidearm lefty) all threw an inning, as did young starters John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
Rodriguez gave up a run on two hits -- one an RBI single by veteran corner infielder Jorge Cantu -- against five batters; Kohn gave up a bunt single and struck out one; Hellweg retired all four hitters he faced; Van Mil gave up five straight singles (though one was a fly ball lost in the sun and the other was a grounder that should've been fielded); Meyer gave up two singles and a walk; and Pena gave up a walk and a bunt single.
The best play was made by young shortstop Jean Segura, who scooped a hard-hit short-hop off the bat of Matt Long, spun around and got the out at first base.
The Angels' starting infield -- Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols -- was on the field for the top of the first before finishing up, and each half-inning ended in bunt situations.
The Angels reached agreement with 21 players who are not yet eligible for arbitration -- and thus have between zero and three years of service time -- but renewed the contract of closer Jordan Walden. In other words, the two sides couldn't agree on Walden's 2012 salary, and instead the club chose how much he'd make.
Players in that zero-to-three service-time realm usually make around $500,000. The league minimum this year is $480,000. Among the players who agreed to terms on Saturday were Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger, Garrett Richards, Jean Segura, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo.
The newly acquired C.J. Wilson will be starting the exhibition opener at the Athletics' facility on Monday and will pitch two innings. Albert Pujols is also expected to start. The game will take place at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, starts at 1:05 p.m. MT and will not be televised. The A's will have a split-squad that day and will also be playing at the Cubs' facility in Mesa, Ariz.
The Angels sold slightly more than 30,000 seats on Saturday, the first day single-game regular-season tickets went on sale. The club also sold 14 new season-ticket plans, bringing their season-ticket total to 22,346. As of 6 p.m. PT on Saturday, the Opening Day game against the Royals on April 6 was close to being sold out, the club said.
In addition, six Cactus League games at Tempe Diablo Stadium have already sold out (March 9, 10, 16, 17, 25 and 30) and two others (March 11 and 12) are near sell-outs.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.